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How Employers Hire

Understanding how employers hire will help you plan a successful job search.

Each employer has a slightly different hiring process. Here are four common steps.

1. The Employer Recruits Candidates for a Job Opening

Recruiting is the process of getting job seekers to apply for a job. In most companies, the Human Resources (HR) department does this.

There are many ways employers recruit applicants:

  • Advertisements. Job ads can be found on company and job websites, in newspapers and trade publications, and on telephone job hotlines.

  • Internal Postings. Some employers will start by looking for candidates who already work for them but who might want to switch to the open position.

  • Referrals. Most employers prefer when a trusted employee, colleague, or peer refers someone they know for a job opening. Many employers actively solicit such referrals as part of their recruitment efforts. To increase your chances of being referred, build a network and conduct informational interviews.

  • Employment Agencies. Many employers use agencies to hire people on a temporary or contract basis. If you work out well, the employer may hire you on a permanent basis.

  • Job Fairs. Employers recruit at job fairs to build a pool of candidates. They may not have an immediate opening. Find job fairs on the Job and Career Fair calendar from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

2. The Employer Screens the Applications

The goal of screening job applicants is to narrow the pool of qualified people to interview. This is no simple task. For any one job, there may be hundreds of applicants.

The employer starts by trying to eliminate as many candidates as possible, as fast as possible. During the initial screening, the employer generally spends no more than a few seconds on each resume. They quickly eliminate those that don't have the required education or experience.

The employer will then spend more time reviewing the small number of candidates left. They look more closely at qualifications. At this point, they may contact references and/or past employers. To narrow down the pool even more, an employer may decide to conduct brief screening interviews. These interviews may take place over the phone or in person. Usually, the HR department will do all the screening.

3. The Employer Schedules Interviews with Selected Applicants

Every step in the process plays a part in the hiring decision, but the interview it usually the most important. Employers most often make the final selection based on it. The goal of the hiring manager is to confirm your qualifications. They also want to evaluate how you may "fit" into the organization. Other managers and employees may also participate in the interview and the hiring decision.

At this point in the process, it is not whether you are qualified, but whether you are the best qualified for the job. "Best qualified" does not just mean skills, experience, and education. Employers are also looking for motivation, a passion for excellence, and a dedication to continuous learning and quality.

Treat everyone you meet as though he or she were the hiring authority. The people you meet during the interview process may have an influence on the hiring decision.

Before an employer makes a final decision, they usually call the references for their top candidates.

4. The Employer Makes an Offer to a Selected Candidate

Both parties must now negotiate salary and the other terms of employment. The employer's HR department then processes all the paperwork required to hire the person.

The average person will change careers several times during her/his lifetime. Job searching has become an ongoing career process.